Distant Drums of Wounded Knee Part Four
Wounded Knee Cemetary
Distant Drums of Wounded Knee Part Four
Sam tried to remember the words to Buffy St. Marie's song, "Where have all the buffalo gone?" and was about to sing the first verse when some distant bright fire flared up. He dowsed the campfire and ran to the top of the ravine but could see nothing but sky, clouds, pines and prairie.
"Tonight let's try to get within sight of the white Catholic church building at Wounded Knee, and then make a runfor it the following night."
"Aye, sounds fine to me."
Kitty left her pack with Sam and walked a bit along the edge of the ravine to scout around. The terrain reminded her of County Armagh,but her homeland never quite got this cold except maybe way back in the days of the famine. Many a time had Armagh, Newry and Crossmaglen been raided by her kinsmen in the IRA, so the rat-ta-tat-tat of high velocity rifle fire in the distance was hardly strange to her. Her kinsmen believed that the Scots-Irish Protestant transplants dating back to Oliver Cromwell were really "colons" as Algerians call the French in North Africa. It was their job to reunify Ireland as it was before Cromwell--if the "colons" wished to stay under the Irish flag in the North, fine and dandy, but if not, well...
She thought to herself that white Americans, from the Indian viewpoint, anyway, were "colons." If they did not wish to acknowledge the forceful psychic presence of the Shoshone, Lakota, Apache, Kiowa, Pawnee, Nez Perce, Omaha, Fox, Delaware, Cherokee, Seminole, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Pueblo, Navajo, Chickasaw, Paiute, Hopi, Mic-Mac, Cree, or Blackfeet, then were they not simply twentieth-cenjtury European "colons'? The American Indian Movement surely picked the right place to seize--Wou8nded Knee 73, the site of a savage massacre of hundreds of Indian men, women and children in 1890. Kitty could hardly wait to see that new flag of the four directions flying over Indian-held land in the very heart of America.
Sam caught up with her to say he had roasted some Italian sausage for lunch and that, along with green peppers and onions on soda bread, would make a pretty fair sandwich as Vespucci used to say. Now he saw that her hair was auburn and it glowed in the sunlight. She was a fiery one alright.
"By the time we finish lunch, we'll have only about four hours to wait until dark--that'd be a good time to catch forty winks as we'll need the energy for tonights journey."
"Aye. Will they have that flag lit up at nighttime, do ya s'pose?"
"Their flag--the four colors of the universe.""Oh aye," he caught himself, "yes, I'm sure it's flying twenty-four hours a day."
They ate their Italian sandwiches--her first ever--and crawled into their sleeping bags to try to snooze the afternoon away. She was soon off into the depths of another world, but he kept thinking of Francis Parkman State College and why he was here in South Dakota as a plume of smoke rose from their dying campfire.
Sam remember the author Francis Parkman again in anger and disgust. He couldn't forget the words, because he had underscored them several times, "It is obvious that the Indian mind has never seriously occupied itself with any of the higher themes of thought."
"What a son of a bitch," Sam mumbled out loud.
The white man's higher themes of thought must have led to the Cuyahoga River being made flammable and Lake Eire dead, and Yucca Flats poisoned with radiation. What bullshit this Francis Parkman had talked. And those smug bastards on the faculty laughing at me because I was a "Shoeshine" Indian. Thank God for Wounded Knee '73. It was difficult to get to sleep, but he remembered a prayer in his native language which reconnected him with the pines along the ravine and hawks sailing through the air, and the distant drums of Wounded Knee that pounded during February, March and April, 1973 until the Feds forced them to surrender.
Darkness had come and he and Kitty trudged several more hours in cold ravines toward Wounded Knee. At last they saw the flag of the four directions in the distance and unloaded their hundred pounds of food for a rest. They could hear shouts of joy and laughter around a distant campfire lighting up the Catholic church and the new flag of four-square miles of Wounded Knee. Kitty thought she must be re-living the Easter Uprising of the Irish rebels in 1916. Their ravine remained utterly silent and peaceful except for a raven chasing two sparrows in the sky.
Kitty suddenly let out a piercing scream. She kept shouting, "Stop, Let go of me!"
Sam jumped up and started running toward Kitty and the intruder, but he was grabbed around his throat and knocked to the ground by another man. Both he and Kitty were called trash as the Feds handcuffed them and seized their backpacks full of supplies for their brothers just a few hundred yards away. They were carted off in a truck to Rapid City and booked, but when they discovered that Kitty was an alien, they ordered her deportation, while Sam eventually received a six-month jail sentence for aiding and abetting the "enemy." She had a chance to kiss Sam goodbye and slip him her address in Ireland should he ever want to cross the pond someday. All the way back to Ireland, she prayed for Americans to grant greater recognition to tribal peoples and to return, at least a piece, of the sacred Black Hills to the Lakota Nation.
This is a modified part of Chapter XI of my first novel, Clearing of the Mist (Dustbooks, 1979 and reprinted by Domhan Books in 2000).
There are numerous books about Wounded Knee '73 and the American Indian Movement including Kenneth Stern's book, Loud Hawk: The U.S. Versus the American Indian Movement (2002).
Would you like to visit Wounded Knee, South Dakota?
© 2010 Richard Francis Fleck